After an arguably lackluster second installment (that did indeed have a few good moments); was it necessary to bring in a part three to the Men in Black franchise? Dropping enough of its recurring characters, Men in Black III eventually trades in the jokes for an oddly softer side. Failing to deliver on both feelings and criminally under using Jemaine Clement as the film’s villain, what’s left is two hours of the same ol’ same ol’.
Agents J (Will Smith) and K (Tommy Lee Jones) are just going through the motions. K’s still his surly, grumpy, self and J attempts to crack K’s stoic mold with jibber-jabber and silliness. When Boris the Animal (or, just Boris; Jemaine Clement) breaks out of a maximum security prison, he sets out to kill the man who not only put him away for life, but took his arm. Boris hatches a plan that will not only rid the world of K, but will destroy the earth. It’s up to J to make sure K (Josh Brolin in the younger form) and our planet stays safe and sound. This means J has to travel through time to an era when he would not be welcomed based on appearance alone. Will J succeed while keeping space and time from folding in on itself?
The entire Men in Black serious is predicated on not taking things too seriously, while throwing jokes about people like Lady Gaga being an alien into the background. It was fun the first time, recognizable the second, and faulty the third time around. Comedy or not, when your film’s villain is guarded by Laurel and Hardy, it’s hard to buy into the fantasy. Indiana Jones always finds himself caught in a world changing situation because the movies revolve around him. Will Smith is the real box office draw for these movies, yet they’re all about something or someone Tommy Lee Jones spurned in the past.
At the same time, playing with time travel is always a dangerous move. You have to be smart not to overlap conflicting timelines. While the main story plays the time card close to its chest, the overall implications of so many other issues are exposed. Sure, there are some funny jokes that come out of the whole thing (one cameo almost makes up for the lack of other jokes), but the shocking inconstancy of actual events compared to the world of MIB is staggering. It’s hard to talk about without giving anything away, but with so many aliens on Earth in 1969, it’s a shock a certain milestone in world history plays such an important role in the film.
Men in Black III does try to separate itself in new ways. This film is more about the relationship between two partners than anything else. All these films were, but it’s the main focus in this edition. A bold move in ways, it lacks enough true heart to reach the audience on a touching level. Even though some of the films big emotional surprises are poorly foreshadowed, I expected them to affect me when they finally happened. Yet, I felt nothing.
Where most films that wade through the same old waters would drive me to into a fit of untamed anger; Men in Black III is more of a mindless picture that flies by without any real implications, drama, or friction. In the end, besides having Josh Brolin deliver his best Tommy Lee Jones impression, Men in Black III is ultimately benign, fitting the mold as an easily digestible if albeit pointless spectacle.
Rating: 2 and a half out of 5 ‘Staches